Lonely Planet Writer

Tigers, leopards and pandas will be protected in China’s new national parks

China is moving ahead with plans for new national parks that will help protect species like Siberian tigers, Amur leopards and giant pandas.

Hungry giant panda bear eating bamboo at Chengdu, China. China national parks
Hungry giant panda bear eating bamboo at Chengdu, China. Image by ©nelik/Shutterstock

Last year, the plans for four new national parks – one for each of the country’s main endangered species – were submitted to the government. It was announced earlier this year that work would begin on the first national park in China, dedicated to the Tibetan antelope, called Sanjiangyuan National Park on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Now, plans for the parks for the giant pandas and Siberian tiger – along with the Amur leopard – are set to move ahead as the country plans to overhaul its national parks system.

State-run news agency Xinhua reported earlier this month that the country plans to create a national park 60% bigger than Yellowstone National Park – covering 14,600 square kilometres – for Siberian tigers and Amur leopards. The park will be located in the Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, along the Russian border. The Jilin provincial forestry department confirmed to state media that the park plan has been approved by the central government.

Siberian tiger. China national parks
Siberian tiger. Image by ©Anita Islalska/Lonely Planet

Amur leopards are critically endangered with a population of only a bit more than 60 individuals worldwide, according to the World Wildlife Foundation. Siberian tiger, or Amur tiger, also live in the Russian Far East, Northern China and the Korean peninsula, and are endangered, with a population of as many as 540. The park will provide a habitat for animals and will include facilities like a monitoring and rescue centre.

The country has also pushed ahead on plans for a national park for giant pandas in the provinces of Shaanxi, Gansu and Sichuan. Earlier this month, Xinhua reported that the Shaanxi forestry department announced its plans for the area, which will protect the habitat of the wild pandas. According to the WWF, there are only 1800 pandas left in the wild. However, the species received some good news this year, when it was downgraded from an endangered species to a species vulnerable to extinction.

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